Italy aims for 60% of China’s online wine sales

Italy is hoping to make up for the lagging performance of its wines in China by signing a huge new deal with Asia’s biggest e-commerce site that could see sales rise 10-fold.

Jack Ma (right) met with Italian prime minister Matteo Renzi before announcing the deal at Vinitaly (Photo: Twitter)

Jack Ma (right) met with Italian prime minister Matteo Renzi (left) before announcing the deal at Vinitaly (Photo: Twitter)

A deal to promote Italy’s wines in China was announced at a conference hosted by Italian prime minister Matteo Renzi and Jack Ma, the founder of online retailer Alibaba and one of Asia’s most influential businessmen.

Ma said the joint effort has the potential to raise Italy’s performance from 6% of Alibaba’s wine sales currently to 60% in the near future.

An online wine event on Alibaba on 9 September to introduce global wines to Chinese consumers was announced as part of the deal.

“Alibaba wants to be the gateway to China for Italian brands and small businesses,” Ma said at the Vinitaly wine fair.

While Italy is the world’s largest wine producer, the country’s complex regulations mean that its industry is much more dispersed and fragmented.

Out of 55,000 wine producers in Italy, almost 85% make less than 10,000 bottles, according to Denis Pantini of Nomisma, making it harder to organise cooperative export drives.

Italian wine exports to Asia reduced significantly in 2015, down 10%, according to investment bank Mediobanca. The region now accounts for just 3.9% of non-domestic sales.

“Italy has lost too many opportunities in the e-commerce sector. The only way for small companies to keep up with global competition is to turn digital,” Renzi said.

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